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Chicago releases hundreds of videos of police-related incidents

Chicago officials publicly released hundreds of videos, audio recordings and other evidence on Friday from 101 incidents involving the city’s police department. This marks another step by city officials in a continuing bid toward transparency and rebuilding Chicago’s splintered relationship with the African-American community.

The Independent Police Review Authority, an agency responsible for investigating police misconduct, uploaded nearly 300 videos on Friday from years-old cases onto an online portal available to the public.

“These past few months, as the city has struggled with so many questions about policing and about police accountability, it has been clear that we all agree that there’s a lack of trust, and that increased transparency is essential to rebuilding that trust,” IPRA chief administrator Sharon Fairley said.

In one video, an officer appears to punch a man while in police custody. In another, an officer drags a man across a hallway by the handcuffs. In one video, an officer shoots an unarmed Ismael Jamison, 28, who was accused of hitting a bus driver.

Friday’s announcement stems from a new policy, enacted by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in February, that required the police department to post video recordings and other evidence from critical cases online within 60 days of the incident.

Police responded to a disturbance on a bus, wherein Ismaaeel Jamison, 28, allegedly struck the driver. The unarmed Jamison resisted arrest and was shot in the chest and right foot by police. He was transported to a hospital where his wounds were listed as serious.

In November, a judge’s order forced the police department to release the dashcam video of the October 2014 fatal shooting of a black 17-year-old. As seen in the video, officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shot Laquan McDonald 16 times.

Critics of the police department questioned why the city delayed the release of the video, while city officials maintained that ongoing investigations around the case kept the video from going public.

Since then, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, and Garry McCarthy, Chicago’s longtime police superintendent, stepped down in December.

On April 30, 2012, alleged burglars plowed through a garage door on the southside of Chicago, whereupon police officers discharged their firearms. Incident begins approximately 20 minutes into this video. WARNING: Video contains graphic footage. Viewer discretion is advised.

Fairley stressed that the release of Friday’s video had no bearings on the pending investigations involved, nor did it mean a determination has been made about the conduct of the officers seen or referenced in the reports. Fairley also warned that the videos don’t always capture the full context of an incident.

Some of the IPRA videos were recorded by police dashcams or bodycams, some by bystanders’ cell phones.

Officers observed Lisa Simmons, 43, publicly drinking alcohol out of a plastic cup in North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Three others were arrested. Incidents occur at approximately (a) 30 seconds and (b) 1 minute and 10 seconds into this video. WARNING: Video contains graphic footage. Viewer discretion is advised.

In May, Emanuel announced that the IPRA will be replaced by a civilian group with “more independence and more resources to do its work.”

Craig Futterman, who filed the FOIA request to release the footage of the McDonald shooting, said it was too early to tell if the Chicago Police Department’s move is a true step toward transparency.

“Decades of secrecy and institutional denial should give us reason for skepticism about this, but I look forward to seeing whether this will really be a significant step in the direction of transparency,” Futterman told AP. “This really has the potential to mark a new day in Chicago.”

Officers drag handcuffed Phillip Coleman, 38, following his arrest for alleged domestic battery and aggressive battery against officers. While in lock-up, Coleman became aggressive, according to police reports. He was tased and transported to a local hospital, where officers had to restrain him. One witness at the hospital said Coleman charged at officers. Incident begins 10 seconds into the video.

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